Parents should keep eye on child's vision

April 12, 2011 4:36:13 AM PDT
Children and vision problems never have to mix. In fact, 95-percent of all eye issues can be fixed with early detection. That's why doctors check for this sort of thing before your baby leaves the hospital. But that doesn't mean more problems can't pop up later in life.

Six-year old Amy Linder won't let an eye patch spoil her love of reading. She wears it over her stronger eye for two hours each day to help improve her weaker one.

"I have to put in on here so my eye can get better," said Amy.

Mom noticed Amy's eye was wandering two years ago, and doctors confirmed 20/80 vision in that eye. Children need a vision check at birth, with another at 3 and 6 months ... 3 to 4 years ... and at 5 years.

"There are children that can have very severe visual problems that can be permanent in an eye because it wasn't detected early enough," said Stuart R. Dankner, MD, Pediatric Ophthalmologist, Assistant Clinical Professor, Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Dankner says problems like lazy eye may be cured if caught early. And the key to early treatment is recognizing warning signs.

"Sometimes, the child may cock their head to the side or squint an eye because they're trying to focus in on something and that may be an early sign," said Dankner.

In children up to one year old, look for an inability to visually track objects ... like toys. In preschoolers, misaligned eyes can signal trouble. at any age, droopy eyelids, eyes that flutter quickly and those sensitive to light could mean vision trouble.

Ten-month old Penelope had a blocked tear duct and showed signs of eye crossing. Turns out her eyes only appeared crossed due to a wide nasal bridge -- common in babies. Antibiotics cleared it up quick -- giving Penelope plenty to smile about.

If you're a parent and have a family history of vision problems -- tell your pediatrician. Dr. Dankner says premature infants have a higher risk of developing lazy eye.

? For More Information, Contact:

Stuart R. Dankner, M.D.
Johns Hopkins Hospital